Should you try to change the mindset of your no-PDA partner?
What happens when you love kissing and your partner doesn’t?
He had the looks, the charm, the strength and best of all — he was funny. What could possibly go wrong with this guy? I thought I’d really lucked out until he told me one thing: “I don’t like to kiss.” And I stared at him as if he’d just said to me, “I don’t know how to make toast.”
I’d dated another guy who wasn’t into public displays of affection (PDA) in public. We could respect each other’s views on this, considering I cringe when someone tries to hold my hand. I am not on a field trip nor will I get lost without your guidance. Leave my hands alone. Meanwhile, he was an octopus in private, and that was totally fine with me!
I’d also dated a guy who always managed to wet the outside of my mouth, but I could chat with him and his friends for hours. Put us in a pool hall or a movie theater, and we were content for the rest of the evening. So I dealt with his wet kisses although I’d experienced better.
Then there were at least three guys who had the insanely annoying habit of always wanting to palm my butt as I walked down the street. That was an instant argument. I am not in a music video, and I’m not interested in being treated like I’m in the Champagne Room instead of a mall parking lot. Calm down.
But I had no idea what to make of the guy who didn’t like to kiss at all. What were we supposed to do when we met up? Give each other dap? Do half-hugs and pound each other on the back? Greet each other with a “yerp” like Desus and Mero?
It would’ve hurt my feelings if he coincidentally decided he didn’t like kissing after I’d kissed him. But he wasn’t feeling the idea before it could even happen. He wasn’t a stranger. He’d seen me in the daytime. I’d known him for years. And yes, he repeatedly tried to smash. But kissing? Meh.
It turns out that he’s not alone. In an American Anthropological Association study (via Women’s Health magazine), researchers studied 168 different cultures regarding kissing. Only 46 percent of these groups kiss, and even less (45 percent) of North American cultures were interested in locking lips. While some non-kissers regarded the mouth as unsanitary and kissing as unpleasant, even people who did enjoy kissing said they wouldn’t do it in front of children.
And that’s where I zoomed in on. Awkward as it may seem, parents who practice PDA tend to shout at their children less and end up with happier kids, reports the National Centre for Social Research (via Business Insider). More than 5,000 families studied in the survey resulted in findings that “couples with more affectionate relationships are also more likely to be better parents.”
Although I spent quite a bit of my childhood looking away when my parents kissed (and they’ve been married for 39 years), I turned out to be the same affectionate person in relationships. While Quality Time beat out Physical Touch for me in regard to Love Languages, the latter wasn’t too far off the mark.
So instead of judging the guy who was turned off by kissing, I asked him what is it about kissing that he’s just not into. He shrugged and immediately looked uncomfortable. He was willing to peck my lips like a bird. And he made fun of the whole idea by licking my cheek like I was ice cream. But the only time he tried an actual kiss was the most unpleasant experience for both of us. He just didn’t know what in the world he was doing — and we’re in our 30s.
Would he have been better at it if the people around him kissed regularly? Or even past exes? I have no idea. He just seemed to be creeped out by any kind of affection that was more sensual then sexual, and that concerned me.
I knew his mother ended up separating from his biological father. I knew he grew up in an abusive household with his mother and his younger brother’s father. And I knew eventually his mother separated from both of them. This was not a family that was largely affectionate with each other. But I didn’t think it was fair to just assume that he could not be affectionate because of his upbringing.
After all, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network says otherwise: “Most children who live with domestic violence can recover and heal from their experiences. One of the most important factors that helps children do well after experiencing domestic violence is a strong relationship with a caring, nonviolent parent.” And he and his mother were working on strengthening their relationship.
So if he didn’t like kissing, I was willing to respect his beliefs. But the one thing I never understood was his insistence on groping me, even after I said it was a turn-off. While I completely stopped making moves to kiss him, he got more aggressive with groping.
On multiple occasions, I’d been vocal about not liking my rear end to be palmed. He laughed and did it anyway. And I’m not one to back down, so he usually got his arm chopped — not the way to go if you want to create a healthy relationship without physical confrontation. It seemed odd to me that someone who wasn’t into PDA in one way was so persistent about it in another. And although I’d dated men who were disappointed that I wasn’t the hand-holding type, they shrugged and let it be what it was. There was a level of mutual respect there that wasn’t coming across with this particular non-kisser.
Eventually, we parted ways over that (and a number of other reasons). I would never be OK with someone being hypersexual in public with my own body parts, nor would I tolerate being treated that way.
Some women love it though. A casual browse at Six Flags Great America amusement park is full of couples everywhere with their hands in each other’s back pockets. And if you don’t see it there, just watch that cute Netflix movie “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” It’s a thing. But so is kissing. And if your partner is not willing to respect your own boundaries regarding affection or show it in the way that makes you the happiest, it may be time to find someone who will.
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